The Bells Toll on Rock & Roll

Posted April 17, 2008 in Music

Call up Tegan Quin, twin A in Canadian sister-act Tegan and Sara, and she might “we” speak on the European-leg of a seriously extended, two-year tour supporting 2007’s The Con, all the while blogging, fundraising or throwing a peace sign with her cellie-free hand. On the line at 10AM our time, April 2, T & S were home, living in separate, wheel-free houses in separate time-zones and breaking from eight-hour shifts of Internet-business—inventory re-stocking and shoe-dealing with Macbeth Footwear—for a string of 20-minute interviews.

The pair will hardly have time to pull switch-a-roos before boarding another bus (headed toward the US), and yet another come fall. Touring isn’t fun and you definitely shouldn’t do it, but the Quins have mad balance, which is less Cirque du Soleil measured movements than it is measured doses—just one cure for a twin’s twos-syndrome, in which “I” is foreign and life is basically packaged like Hostess cupcakes. Long story short, T&S aren’t going tour-crazy, cause-crazy, multimedia-crazy or plain crazy, because they’ve learned this twin-music-type-thing is a balancing act; twice the work, twice the results. Ah, twin power. Raise that fist (those fists?). 

“I think sometimes, with sharing a face, band and name, I suffer from a lot of what happens to Sara and vice versa,” Tegan says from Vancouver. “We know each other in a way I could never know another human being and this is a great thing to have in your band, but there are times when I feel like it’s a mistake, that we should have chosen separate paths and that our relationship might be completely different because of that. But you know . . . shoulda, coulda, woulda.”

So the Quins aren’t exactly the double-mints, but they are widely associated with onstage storytelling, YouTube and multimedia fondness and tour un-fondness (an assumption clearly linked to 2006’s roadumentary It’s Not Fun, Don’t Do It). Though Tegan and Sara have repeatedly denied this un-fondness as true, some 40,000 YouTube viewers who tuned into “Backstage Bilingual: The Epilogue”—the finale to a podcast bridging European language barriers—heard it’s definitely an unpleasant experience, of which a highlight was almost dying twice, in a “ghetto bus.”

“Things are just so different there (in Europe) and we were laughing about it, because we’re actually going back at the end of June and our managers are like, ‘We got a great bus for you guys,’ and we’re like, ‘You know we don’t even really want to go on the bus, we’d be happy to fly or take the train,’” Tegan says.

The two haven’t spoken since splitting sides two-odd weeks ago, spending necessary time apart. Tegan even performed solo at Canada’s Juno awards pre-show despite her shyness (see: The Con Chapters). Which brings us to the main block of the onstage balancing act—divvying-up the spotlight. Tegan says the solo routine is a smidge intense (note: full-limelight is un-twinny, take Kim and Kelley Deal).

Arcade Fire nabbed T&S’s Alternative Album of the Year Juno, but the Quins seemed undaunted, even if they didn’t blog about it. However, they were MySpace-active several days after: Sara typed on an upcoming Tonight Show spot, while Tegan bulletin-promoted that aforementioned fundraiser, likely returning to eight-hour shifts balanced between phone and Internet lines, podcast-brainstorming and overall T&S-maintenance. And they call this vacation.

“I know the record stands alone, and it doesn’t need to have a million other things connected to it to make it relevant, but as time goes by, we get further from those songs personally,” Tegan says. “Our blogging and all that is obviously narcissism, but it’s combined with our desire to keep an updated image on our fans minds.”

While breaks from the twin-music-type-thing and this business of art are key, the road’s actually smoothed since T&S first signed to Vapor—hey, they’ve traded trailer-toting-minivans for Jacuzzi-laden, American buses. As Tegan said, sometimes sharing a face, band and name can be a “huge fucking burden,” entailing more “we” and less “me,” but in a Hostess world, two is always better than one. Two more festivals—Cyndi Lauper’s True Colors, supporting the Human Rights Campaign, and Bonnaro—wrap up the US tour and touring period, for a whole two months.

“I think it’s a great life; we’re really lucky and, no matter what condition I’m in, I absolutely love making music,” Tegan says. “But I think there are many characteristics of what we do that are difficult and, in a weird way, that balances it out, because God knows if I was [always] walking around feeling as happy as I do when I think about how amazing my life is, it wouldn’t be fair to the rest of you.” 

Tegan and Sara at the Glass House, 200 W. 2nd Street, Pomona. (909) 865-3802, on Wednesday, April 23. Doors at 7PM. Sold out. A portion of the proceeds will benefit the Sweet Relief Musician’s Fund.



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